Author Archives: Erik Brooks

Honoring Our World War I Veterans

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a terrific story in Sunday’s edition about the efforts of two local American Legion Posts to keep the memories of World War I veterans alive.

One of them is right here in South Milwaukee: Van Eimeren-Kolonka Post 27.

From the story:

Cudworth Post 23 was housed in a mansion on Milwaukee’s east side for many years. When it burned down, the post built another in the same block of Prospect Ave., but it was sold two decades ago. Now the post’s offices are above a restaurant in Glendale. Members meet each week for breakfast.

While the Van Eimeren post — it still is in the same building across from the Caterpillar factory in South Milwaukee — was and is known as a blue-collar, working-class post, Cudworth’s membership drew from the ranks of lawyers, doctors, businessmen and judges who had served in the military.

Cudworth boasts some famous members — Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Billy Mitchell and Ken Keltner, the Cleveland Indians third baseman credited with making two impressive defensive plays that helped snap Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

Cudworth post members helped start Badger Boys State, Camp Legion in northern Wisconsin and American Legion baseball leagues in Wisconsin. Like all American Legion posts across the U.S., both the Van Eimeren-Kolonka and Cudworth posts continue to work on behalf of veterans by furnishing honor guards for funerals, organizing educational programs for youths and lobbying for veterans issues.

Membership in both posts is dwindling as World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans die and younger veterans don’t join, a problem for all veterans organizations.

At its peak in the 1980s, the Cudworth post had more than 5,000 members. Now it’s around 400. Van Eimeren-Kolonka’s membership is 235, half the size during the 1950s.

“Every generation of veterans thinks their war is unique and their problems are unique, which is true, but what you have to go through is pretty much the same,” Ludka said. “Veterans organizations are places where you can meet people who have had the same experiences.”

Thank you to our local veterans for this important work … and for their service.

The post is located at 920 Monroe Ave. and has a website and Facebook page.

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Beach Warning: Grant Park

I don’t remember seeing these types of warnings issued before from the National Weather Service, but here is the second one in less than two weeks: a “lakeshore hazard message” for beaches along Lake Michigan, with particular concern paid to currents at Grant Park, among others.

Check out the full message here.

The statement is in effect through Monday evening. Stay safe!

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South Milwaukee Heritage Days: A Shoutout To Our Volunteers

So, Heritage Days 2014 are over. What a week!

The DARE Golf Outing. St. Luke’s Ice Cream Social. Firehouse Spaghetti Dinner. Evening on the Avenue. Heritage Days Parade. Great Duck Race. South Milwaukee Lionsfest.

I had the pleasure of attending all of these, and each was special, true celebrations of our great city.

But let’s keep in mind that none of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of dozens (hundreds?) of volunteers. I know time is tight and demands are high, but South Milwaukeeans always seem to come through, and not just during Heritage Week.

To all of our volunteers, I say, “thank you.” Your efforts are always appreciated.

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Festivals, Parades & More

10494689_893149484050081_1311115531586278510_nNight one of South Milwaukee Lionsfest is in the books … but there’s a lot more on the agenda this weekend.

Saturday features the annual Heritage Days Parade starting at 11 a.m. It starts around 8th and Milwaukee, heads west to 16th, then north to Lionsfest. Look for me and the family on the firetruck!

Then it’s the Friends of the Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse Great Duck Race at 2 p.m. near 15th and Milwaukee Avenues … and the last night of Drama at the Depot, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the South Milwaukee train station.

Lionsfest continues Saturday afternoon and on Sunday, with Family Day. Check out the full schedule above. I’ll be bartending Saturday night and serving food on Sunday.

In other words, it’s a full weekend. Hope to see you out and about!

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Profit Up, Sales Down For Cat

Caterpillar is out with its second-quarter earnings report, and results were mixed — but still concerning around the company’s mining prospects.

Check out coverage from the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Bloomberg.

From Bloomberg …

Mining companies have cut billions of dollars of capital spending amid surplus commodities production and a drop in prices for coal, iron ore and other metals. Caterpillar, which completed a string of mining-related acquisitions when the market was stronger, said today the industry remains “weak” and order levels are still low.

“We are seeing our customers defer maintenance,” Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said on a conference call discussing a decline in mining equipment sales. “The bottom is just behind us. Our numbers are minuscule in terms of ticking up, but they are ticking up.”

Caterpillar’s sales of mining machinery through dealers dropped 38 percent in the second quarter, with declines in every region except North America.

The “mining slump is the No. 1 headwind for Caterpillar,” Matt Arnold, a St. Louis-based analyst with Edward Jones, said by phone. “It won’t last forever, but the question is, how well can the company harness improvement in its other segments in the meantime?”

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A Great Evening On The Avenue

10580097_10204728628874666_3175624908039396866_n 10579993_10204728997683886_2619082084093857961_nWhat a great night to be a South Milwaukeean.

From the Sorce Martial Arts open house to the demonstrations to the freebies to the music, Evening on the Avenue was a big success — and my first opportunity to be in a dunk tank. :)

Next  up: South Milwaukee Lionsfest, starting Friday, and the Heritage Days Parade and Friends of Mill Pond Duck Race on Saturday. Drama at the Depot also continues at the train station downtown Friday and Saturday evenings.

One note: I’m told the parade is bigger and better than ever this year, with more than 120 entrants. Look for me and my family on the fire truck!


Filed under Community, South Milwaukee

Disaster Funding Headed Here?

Gov. Scott Walker has officially asked the federal government for disaster assistance for communities following this year’s harsh winter.

Check out the story here.

What does that mean for South Milwaukee? Potentially, a lot. We’ve asked for nearly $167,000 in funds due to broken water mains, road repairs and other issues caused by the weather.

That would be a significant help to our budget.

Learn more in my previous post.

We’ll see what, if any, funding comes our way.

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Heritage Days In Full Swing

20140723_172409Monday was the DARE Golf Outing, Tuesday the St. Luke’s Ice Cream Social. Tonight, the Firehouse Spaghetti Dinner. It’s been a great week so far, and we’re just getting started.

Thursday, it’s Evening on the Avenue, including the South Milwaukee Downtown Market and Drama at the Depot. Friday, Lionsfest starts. Saturday, it’s the Heritage Days Parade and Duck Race.

Bring it on! Learn more here.

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Getting People To Slow Down

20140720_200421American Family Insurance — the Jim Incledon Agency — has again stepped up with a donation of “slow down” yard signs to the city. Want one or three for your neighborhood? Contact South Milwaukee Police Lt. Chad Milow at 768-8060 or by email.

Thanks to Jim and American Family for the continued partnership — and the joint commitment to make our neighborhoods safer.

The Incledon Agency is located in Sunrise Plaza in South Milwaukee, 2410 10th Ave.


Filed under Community, Police

Can You Help At Lionsfest?

The more I’ve gotten involved with the South Milwaukee Lions, the more it’s become clear: It takes a village to put on Lionsfest.

And we need your help. Interested in volunteering for a few hours? Sign up here.

From grill to games to servers to cleanup, there is lots to do. Please consider helping out at the Lions’ biggest annual fundraiser.

Check out the full Lionsfest schedule here on Facebook. And we’ll see you next Friday through Sunday!

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Can You Taste The Coffee And Donuts?

1403523624043 interrupter_cupsMy answer to that question: Yes!

I am told the new Dunkin’ Donuts at Chicago Avenue and Drexel Boulevard is set to open on Wednesday, July 23. Thanks to Alderman Pat Stoner for the tip … and welcome to South Milwaukee, Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Construction Update: 11th Avenue, Sherman, Blake

Quick construction update …

The new-and-improved 11th Avenue is now open, with the construction project between Milwaukee and Michigan Avenues nearly complete. (Check out the photo below.)

The road will be home to the South Milwaukee Downtown Market once again starting Thursday, July 31, as the market moves from its temporary home at 12th and Milwaukee to its traditional location.

The South Milwaukee City Council also approved at its meeting Tuesday spending more than $250,000 to repave Sherman Avenue Fifth to Ninth and Blake Avenue Eighth to Ninth, in addition to water main work on Sherman.


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Celebrating South Milwaukee Heritage Days

Heritage Days are the best days of the year to be a South Milwaukeean. And with a full roster of events, there is something for everyone, including a few exciting new additions for 2014.

Here is a list …

Monday, July 21

DARE Golf Outing

The big annual fundraiser for the South Milwaukee Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is held at Oakwood Golf Course, with lunch and beverages included. A raffle is also planned. Cost is $80 per person. To sign up, contact Officer Lewison at 768-8060. Learn more in my previous post.

Tuesday, July 22

Ice Cream Social

The event is from 4 to 8 p.m. at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ, 2200 18th Ave. There will hot dogs and brats, a raffle and band concert. And ice cream, of course.

Wednesday, July 23

Firehouse Spaghetti Dinner

Dinner is served from 4:30 to 8 p.m. for this outstanding community event held at the South Milwaukee Fire Department, 929 Marshall Court. Di Carlo Trattoria & Pizzeria caters.

Thursday, July 24-Saturday, July 26

Drama at the Depot

In a new Heritage Week event (and hopefully an annual one) outdoor performances are planned for 7:30 p.m. each night at the 121-year-old railroad station at 11th and Madison Avenues. Musicians, dancers and more are scheduled as part of this collaboration between the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center and The Battery Factory. Learn more in my previous post. Performances are free, open to the public and appropriate for all ages.

Thursday, July 24

Evening on the Avenue

What a great collection of downtown events! Food, music, demonstrations and much, much more are on the agenda for the big annual downtown street party, as well as Drama at the Depot and the South Milwaukee Downtown Market. Also scheduled: the grand reopening of Sorce Martial Arts, which is celebrating its terrific expansion and renovation.

Friday, July 25-Sunday, July 27


The South Milwaukee Lions’ biggest annual fundraiser features food, music, rides, games and plenty of family fun. There is a South Milwaukee High School all-class reunion and car show Friday night, and Family Day on Sunday, with lots in between. Here is the Facebook page.

Saturday, July 26

Heritage Days Parade

The city’s biggest parade runs from 8th and Milwaukee, west on Milwaukee to 16th, then north to Lionsfest, with dozens of entrants and surely lots of surprises. Look for me and my family on the fire truck.

The Great Duck Race
This is a really fun event for a great cause put on by the Friends of Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse. Ducks set off in Oak Creek at 2 p.m. from 15th and Milwaukee.

Learn more about all of these events at And I’ll see you around town!

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Golfers Wanted For Monday DARE Fundraiser

The annual DARE Golf Outing is set for Monday, and they are still looking for golfers.

Interested? Bring you or your foursome!

The event is at Oakwood Golf Course, with a shotgun start set for 8 a.m. Cost is $80 per golfer.

Lunch is provided, as are beverages, including beer donated by MillerCoors, me and Alderman Pat Stoner. Raffle tickets are available for purchase for a chance to win one of several great prizes.

For more information, contact Officer Lewison at 768-8060.

This is the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program’s biggest fundraiser, so please consider stepping up to help this terrific program.

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Three Nights Of Drama At The Depot

Depot-in-SpringAs if Heritage Week wasn’t special enough … now comes this unique special event at perhaps the city’s most iconic structure.

Here is the lineup for Drama at the Depot, with outdoor performances planned for 7:30 p.m. each night July 24-26 at the 121-year-old depot at 11th and Madison Avenues.

The performers …

Mississippi Sawyer is a band featuring conventional and improvised acoustic instruments.  To the delight of the listeners, Mississippi Sawyer brings together the sounds of the banjo, kick-drum suitcase, guitar, washtub bass, washboard, singing saw, Irish whistle, kazoos and other homemade instruments.

Cadance Collective will perform a Folk Suite of works inspired by several folk songs of the 19th century including ‘Oh My Darling, Clementine’ and ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.’  The third song, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ deals with the theme of wandering along life’s path, as so many drifters did following the birth of the U.S. railroad system.  Cadance Collective uses flute, cello, ukulele, voice, and dance, to translate these old familiar songs into a modern language.

Dance Revolution Milwaukee (DRM) performance explores how we make and maintain relationships in a world filled with hustle and bustle.  The work incorporates the theme of interconnectedness between people and places as well as the history of South Milwaukee and the South Milwaukee Railroad Depot.  The piece, Threefold, “physicalizes” the need to keep changing and also the importance of staying connected to people and places most important to us.

Kath Vandenberg’s theatre piece about a woman in her mid-20’s remembering how she used to come and play on the platform and in the area surrounding the depot.  This fictional woman grew up in the neighborhood of the depot and will act out brief encounters with the mysterious and interesting passengers that she meets on the train.

These performances are free, open to the public and appropriate for all ages. I am really looking forward to this, and I hope you are too. What a great way to show off a beautifully restored building.

The performances are presented by the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center and The Battery Factory.

Here is the press release.

Learn more about the history of the depot here.

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